Huge growth in Australian mining jobs

In a joint statement, the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia explain that Australia’s minerals industry will need to find an extra 70,000 workers over the next decade to meet its demand for labour, according to a new report from the Minerals Industry National Skills Shortage Strategy (NSSS) Working Party. Buoyed by sustained global economic growth, employment in the minerals sector is projected to increase by 76% over the next decade, equating to more than 70,000 new positions, with significant gaps between supply and demand according to the report, Staffing the Supercycle: Labour Force Outlook in the Minerals Sector, 2005-2015.

The report was funded by the Federal Department of Education, Science and Training, and undertaken by the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide. Employment growth identified in this report predominates in Western Australia and Queensland with 42,000 and 15,000 positions projected respectively. Significant employment growth is also anticipated in the NSW and South Australian resources sectors. The demand for workers, in terms of absolute numbers, is expected to be most acute in trades and semiskilled positions, with the copper, nickel and bauxite/alumina industries experiencing the strongest growth. However, shortages in certain professional occupations and the challenge to attract enough people into these occupations will remain critical.

The report provides a new insight into the issue of skills shortages, and the occupations where shortages are likely to become most acute, according to NSSS Chairman and Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA President, Dr David Smith. “This study provides valuable indications about the extent of future jobs growth in the resources sector, during this historic phase of demand for Australia’s raw materials,” he said. “It underlines the need for industry and Government to continue their efforts to skill and upskill Australians, to take full advantage of the economic strength in the minerals sector.”

The projected demand for labour reinforces the need for a vigorous multi-faceted response according to the MCA’s Chief Executive, Mitchell H Hooke. “As this report highlights, we are not just looking at a skills shortage, but in fact a people shortage. In this context, the Federal Government’s recent Skills for the Future package is particularly timely. There’s no room for complacency given the anticipated demand for labour,” he said.

Smith said: “Industry must continue to be enterprising to attract, train and retain workers. Some industry initiatives include establishing an Australian Technical College in the Pilbara in partnership with the Federal and Western Australian Governments, offering more apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities as well as promoting university collaboration in the delivery of minerals related undergraduate and post-graduate courses. The minerals industry continues to develop innovative strategies to attract young Australians and mature workers including working with schools and tertiary institutions to showcase mining related careers. We are a key industry participant in the Federal Government’s Careers Advice Australia initiative’’.

Staffing the Supercycle: Labour Force Outlook in the Minerals Sector, 2005-2015, is available on the MCA website: and the CME website: